Iridescence: Sensuous Shades of Lesbian Erotica by Jolie du Pre (Editor)

Publisher/Date:  Alyson Books, June 2007
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  240

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Iridescence can be defined as “a play of lustrous, changing colors.” In Jolie du Pre’s own IRIDESCENCE: SENSUOUS SHADES OF LESBIAN EROTICA, she definitely plays with the lines of color with a mélange of ethnic women seeking pleasure.

A writer featured in several erotica anthologies, du Pre has compiled a collection of stories featuring females of African American, Caucasian, Asian, Latina and Indian descent in varying sexual rendezvous and compromising situations. Every tale has its own flair, and the rainbow of races shown in the pages of Iridescence present a multicolored hue not often seen in lesbian literature. That’s what makes Iridescence all the more special.

The book begins with Fiona Zedde’s “Night Music,” a melodious romance budding between Rhiannon, a shy orchestra lover, and Zoya, a dreadlocked violin player. They meet after Zoya’s concert at the symphony hall, realizing their attraction could create a harmony all its own. “Lick ‘Er License” offers a glimpse into a Latina nightclub,  where a bartender serves drinks with a passion for her clients, and ends up finding her own love in the club.

While romance is on display in Iridescence, the same can be said for clothes-ripping, steamy encounters, such as the tantalizing “Shopping in New York,” where a boring wait for a friend in a dressing room turns into a naughty scene for a Latina butch; she’ll never look at miniskirts in the same way. In “The Portrait,” an artist asks a  beautiful Asian woman to be her model in an attempt to capture the rich colors of her luminous skin, and finds herself desiring more than what’s on her easel.

Iridescence, in its fervor to bring something different to the table, also attempts to break down stereotypes. For example, a patron desires both the curry chicken and the exotic waitress at her favorite Indian restaurant. While Sasha is turned on by the authentic dress of the hostess, she gets her own surprise when she sees the woman sans sari and bindi – and realizes her Indian fantasy is nothing compared to the real woman behind the costume. Sasha learns is perception isn’t everything.

The final act, written by du Pre, is simply titled “Monisha,” a tale involving two Black women who meet at a coffee shop. How typical, until Monisha invites the patron into her world, finding passion like she’s never known. Too bad she has other obligations.

Iridescence is vibrant, giving the reader so many shades of love that each one stands out. We get to know more about different cultures, from the way they interact to  how they live. What makes the book so cohesive is that desire knows no race, but looks into the heart of the woman. That’s what du Pre conveys in Iridescence, and it  shows in every connection and every infatuation.

It’s time we had a book like this.

Reviewed December 2008

Kiss! Kiss! Keep It Wet! by Ms. Erotica

Publisher/Date:  Xlibris Corporation, Nov. 2006
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  68

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

These women are doing a lot more than kissing in author Ms. Erotica’s KISS! KISS! KEEP IT WET!

This collection of illicit encounters involves ladies and studs droppin’ like it’s hot and tastin’ it like it’s sweet. The nice-naughty storytelling from Ms. Erotica (aka Anita Brown) is sure to make you spend some time with your lover or with yourself, if you follow my drift. All – and I mean all – of the pieces from Kiss go straight for the gusto and don’t hold anything back.

Especially when you read these saucy tales of temptation. The club seems to be a popular spot to get your freak on, at least in Kiss. It has a woman in the backseat in “I’m Going Out,” and a newbie getting turned out in “Missing in My Life.” T-Pain has nothing on the women in “I’m Love With a Stripper,” the story that has two friends spending all their money on dancers more erotic than exotic.

The book also has others finding passion in the most ironic of places. Like “The Desk,” where the term “head nigga in charge” takes on a whole new meaning in the  office. Then on “The Train Ride,” a company trip allows two employees to work more a lot more closely than they would have ever imagined.

Even with all the licking and sucking going, Kiss does have its tender moments. “Our Anniversary” has a woman giving her lover of four years a present she’s always desired, and makes her fantasies come true. And after a long day of work, all Lexi wants to do is have “A Relaxing Night at Home” – until she realizes her brother has invited friends over to her apartment, but it may be an even better night after she meets one of his beautiful homegirls.

Ms. Erotica knows how to turn you on with the power of her pen. She’s been writing erotica for two years now, and already has the no-holds-barred style of Zane, one of  her favorite authors. What does turn you off are the excessive grammatical errors throughout the book. Once she has that under control, she could become the next  lesbian Zane. It’s only a matter of time.

Because her storytelling is on point – and off the chain.

Reviewed December 2008

Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion by Hazel Mills

Publisher/Date:  Xpress Yourself Publishing, LLC , Feb. 2008
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story, Bisexual
Pages:  112

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

When passions are laid bare, it can be sensual, exciting and worth every minute.

The same can be said about BARE NECESSITIES: SENSUOUS TALES OF PASSION, the collection of naughty gems and poems written by Hazel Mills. Containing 11 stories of sexual candor, Bare Necessities combines a little bit of romance and a little bit of sin to create a short-but-sweet romp worth reading.

Bare Necessities begins with “A Lover is Born,” where Laila is introduced to Gabe at her book club meeting and is instantly entranced. She wants to get to know Gabe better, and what better way than to host the next gathering at her place. The bash is a success in more ways than one, as the two ladies manage to get their own party started.

In “Surrender,” a workaholic husband and wife put the spice back into their marriage by attending a couple’s retreat. Yet, this isn’t just a boring therapy session; it’s an experience that allows them to seek unknown pleasures, and from it the married lovers learn that it’s okay to let go and explore their freaky sides.

Then in the most poignant tale of Bare Necessities, “Sweet Home Alabama,” a Philadelphia transplant returns for her family reunion in Sweet Home, a small town with even smaller dreams. Despite escaping, Tracy has only one regret after leaving her hometown: abandoning her childhood sweetheart, Monica. She vows to find her – and finally be with the woman she never stopped loving.

There more treasures in Bare Necessities, and Mills doesn’t hesitate to give them to you. Her stories are funny, warm, and hot in just the right places. Even though the book has a mere hundred or so pages, it doesn’t fail to get you fired up. I look forward to reading more from Mills – hopefully in a book with a much higher page count.

Reviewed August 2008

Visions of a Cryptic Mystery: Volume One by Eternity Philops (June 2008 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Black Tygre Publications, Apr. 2008
Genre(s):  Poetry, Short-Story
Pages:  126

Rating: ★★★★★ 

A sweet feeling washes over you when reading VISIONS OF A CRYPTIC MYSTERY: VOLUME ONE, a vibe of spiritual and sexual serenity.

Author Eternity Philops’ Visions is a beautiful view from which readers won’t be able to tear their eyes away. Excellent in its form, approach and creativity, Visions captures your senses. Both poetry and prose encompass this brilliant array of work that speaks to black lesbians everywhere. Its unique charm lies in Philops’ poems that clinch the mind with a metaphysical theme and her short stories that engage the heart.

Visions is categorized by three fragments titled Love, Loss and Life. The first, Love, captures the emotion and physical aspects of affection, with stories concerning unrequited love in “Almost First Kiss” and love beyond time in “Black Lace.” The poems in this section compliment these stories with an air of “Cosmic Intimacy.”

“Come soar with me
Be my love
We will stroll across a plateau of clouds,
Bathed in iridescent rays of sunlight
We shall picnic on the billowed hills of heaven,
As the soft rustle of God’s whispers blows gently
in our ears.”

The next section deals with the facet of Loss, as evidenced by the stories “Other Side of the Moon,” a tale of two women in love who never quite become one, and in “A Luncheon Scorned,” where a woman finally gives a former lover her just desserts. In this section, the poems underscore the feeling losing the most important thing in your life, as evidenced in “A Slight Wind.”

“Her whispered nothings are sweet
their smog a pollution
of my atmosphere
I’ve inhaled to deeply
the toxins of her tongue
Lungs full of a lover’s lies
I asphyxiate
for lack of pure clean truth”

In the final part of Visions, Philops writes about Life in its candor. In “Bait and Switch,” a con-woman finally meets her match and a workaholic learns there’s more to life than business in “An Affirmative Action.” The remainder of her poems in this section vary in themes from creation to dreams.

“Can I be your poet?
Can I write your journey
upon the eclipse of your soul
along the shadow of your benighted thoughts”

Philops’ Visions is a delight to read. It swiftly grabs you from page one, enveloping the reader in colorful and sensuous expressions that you won’t find in most Black lesbian novels. The poems are concise, inspired works of art that Philops has clearly mastered. The prose is mired in its every-woman appeal, making the reader both laugh and long for love. Philops, who wrote the first volume of over an extensive period and has plans for more, compares writing to opening the soul’s window, inviting you to see the view.

From reading Visions, the sight is quite exquisite.

Reviewed June 2008

Purple Panties: An Anthology edited by Zane

Publisher/Date:  Strebor Books, May 2008
Genre(s):  Erotica, Short Story
Pages:  320

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Doesn’t matter what the color, all undergarments come off just as easily in PURPLE PANTIES, the newest book from renowned erotica writer Zane, author of best-selling books Addicted and Chocolate Flava. This time, she focuses her view strictly on the ladies in this anthology of 26 lesbian tales of passion.

As Zane says in her introduction, “You might need a few drinks when you read this book, definitely a sex toy or lover, but you are in for one hell of a ride.” Truer words were never written as you peruse story after story varying from tender romance to rip-your-bra-off sex. Not one author fails to ignite a spark with each page.

Take for instance Laurinda D. Brown’s “It’s All or Nothing,” which finds housewife Meena realizing she gave up too much for her husband, and it took another woman’s kiss to cut the apron strings. Then a pleasure-seeking vacationer looks for “Island Goddess” at a paradise resort, and toy-shopping takes on a whole new meaning at with an adult store proprietor taking advantage of her own products in “Miss Julidene’s Sexy Items.”

One of the highlights of Purple Panties is women discovering the delights of the female sex for the first time. This is portrayed in stories such as “The Finest Man,” wherein a feminine security guard is tantalized by the masculine individual at her workplace, even after realizing he’s really a she. Syreeta then ponders what her attraction to the stud says about herself, because she’s ready to give it up – no matter what the gender.

As expected, Purple Panties has the no-holds barred escapades that blaze with undeniable chemistry. That’s provided courtesy of “The Purple Panty Revue,” as Jay meets the faceless neighbor that’s haunted her fantasies for the past few weeks; the surprise is where they finally encounter one another – and what happens next.

Zane’s own novella is saved for last with “In My Mind,” a tale of a nude art model who poses at local university. One particular co-ed catches Emile’s eye, and she wishes to depict her feelings with the shy undergraduate – if only she could break the student’s aloof exterior.

Purple Panties proves more than provocative, worthy of getting your underwear damp. The only objection is that some stories seem to stop abruptly, and I was left wanting more. Yet I love the fact Zane is bringing lesbian literature to a mainstream black audience; in fact, she’s planning to publish a sequel to Panties early next year.

And I, for one, will be happily waiting – because Zane always knows how to put it down.

Reviewed June 2008

Longing Lust and Love: Black Lesbian Stories edited by Shonia L. Brown (Dec. 2007 Pick of the Month)

Publisher/Date:  Nghosi Books, Jan. 2007
Genre(s):  Short Story, Romance, Erotica
Pages:  300

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

First comes longing, the wishing for that special woman to come into your life.

When she arrives, then comes lust, that craving to express your feelings to her with more than words.

Finally, love takes hold, deepening with every passing moment in her presence.

Ladies and Studs seeking pleasures between the covers can look no further than LONGING, LUST AND LOVE: BLACK LESBIAN STORIES.

Written by 25 new and established writers, this collection of 28 sultry tales, edited by Nghosi Books founder Shonia L. Brown, traces the varying stages of black lesbian relationships – from the art of tease to tying the knot. Every story finds women in various forms of infatuation, pursuit and devotion.

Take for instance, in “Heartfelt” by Nikki Rose, longing is shown through the eyes of Taris, who immediately becomes attracted to a co-worker’s sister, Kai, who doesn’t give her the time of day. Taris, an aggressive businesswoman, isn’t used to getting the cold shoulder and determines to break down Kai’s icy demeanor – and manages to do it one rainy night.

Lust becomes desperate in “Look at Me When You Come” by Tasha C. Miller, as Alexis falls for an extremely sexy stud who grants her every bedroom desire. Married and miserable, Alexis abandons her unsatisfying relationship for a few gratifying hours with Taylor – but eventually Alexis wants something more than just passionate exchanges. Is her stud charming willing to give her what she wants?

Finding and sustaining love are two different things, but Brown’s own tale, “From Friends to Lovers” makes it look effortless between acquaintances Erin and Serita. Meeting at a party two years prior, the pair never quite found their way to one another. A brazen phone call one night unlocks the mystery of where their attraction could lead – from being distant to being together – without any distractions.

Longing, Lust, and Love takes women there and still keeps a realistic tone with every word. Brown has chosen a well-rounded concoction sure to have you melting, laughing and yearning for love, lust and longing – everything a woman wants.

Reviewed December 2007

Callaloo and Other Lesbian Love Tales by LaShonda K. Barnett

Publisher/Date:  New Victoria Publishers, Oct. 1999
Genre(s):  Short Story, Romance
Pages:  123

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Stories of love, loss and affection are finely written in CALLALOO &OTHER LESBIAN LOVE TALES. LaShonda K. Barnett book consists of 17 tasty morsels, each one portraying a distinct flavor of black lesbian love.

All of the tales are written realistically and with passion and soul, and cross various eras, locations and cultural variations for their inspiration. From the late 1950s to the present, Barnett presents these sensuous journeys that travel straight to the heart.

In the first story, “The Homecoming of Narda Boggs,” it’s 1959 Texas, and Jeannie Mae has fallen for the boss’ daughter, discovering that being with Narda is much more exciting than being with her beau, Booker. “Rituals” finds Nella and Muriel more settled with each other in their old age, while Lilah finds her cinematic muse with Kelsea, a white woman she tries hard not to love.

“Miss Hannah’s Lesson” is one of the highlights of Callaloo, and it beautifully portrays the love between a house slave named Sarah and her mistress, Miss Hannah. Hannah cares so much for Sarah she helps the girl learn to read in spite of the trouble it could cause. Through Sarah’s teachings, their love develops so effortlessly despite the differences in their skin color and stations in life.

Every sound has Lily “Remembering Hortense,” and food takes on a passionate meaning in “Breakfast with Dinah.” Shawn can’t play the fool anymore in “The Telephone Call,” while Dorie’s fascination with gay symbols in “Black Triangles, Rainbows and Dykes” helps her figure out whom she is.

Another highlight of Callaloo is the story “Meatloaf,” a woman who agonizes over her lover’s death, but realizes that life with Carmen wasn’t a walk in the park. She relives the pain of living with an alcoholic lover, and decides that she’s been grieving over Carmen far before her tragic death.

A girlfriend’s illness brings a couple closer together in “New Kid on the Block,” and “It Happened One Sunday Afternoon: A True Story” that a young girl falls for a much older woman despite what the world thinks. And Lynn gets a sensuous surprise when her girlfriend unexpectedly shows up in “Tennessee.”

“Losing Sight of Lavender” is a poignant tale about Sael, a lesbian in a HIV-positive support group coming to terms with her mortality. Going to her meetings helps her to reminisce on her life and hope for a better tomorrow despite the prognosis she’s been given.

“Bitter Wine” finds Leta rekindling a friendship with a childhood friend, while an anonymous couple recalls how they met in a “Conversation at Lucy’s.” Death takes its toll “When Sunny Gets Blue,” and a Linda brings a taste of home to her lover with a pot of “Callaloo,” the title story.

Barnett does an excellent job with Callaloo and these adoring tales. It shows the many forms love can take, and just how we all can’t live without a taste.

Reviewed February 2006

Speaking in Whispers: African-American Lesbian Erotica by Kathleen E. Morris

Publisher/Date:  Third Side Press, Oct. 1996
Genre(s):  Short Story, Erotica
Pages:  161

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour can best describe these outrageous tales of lesbian passion in Kathleen E. Morris’ SPEAKING IN WHISPERS: AFRICAN-AMERICAN LESBIAN EROTICA.

Morris has compiled 14 stories of lesbian lust with candor, with four interludes named for a season thrown in as a quick tease. The style and characters are contemporary, and some will leave you hot and bothered. Here, black lesbians are referred to as “wimmin” or a “womon,” Morris’ own term she coined.

In “HER,” a womon meets HER on a crowded train and lives out her fantasy with the stranger, while Loren has to teach her stud a “Lesson” she’ll never forget. Jaime gets a “Second Chance” at love with a new wommon after boarding up her heart.

Speaking in Whispers does manage to venture out for pleasure. A trip to “The Movies” gets a little freaky for one pair, and a spicy encounter with a womon at “The Club” gets Tita’s blood racing. In “The Painter,” an art student finds a new source of inspiration with a sexy classmate, while an overworked womon gets a different kind of treatment at “The Spa.” “Appetizers” are what’s on the menu for Carmen and Paula, two wimmin wanting to taste the rainbow.

Making time for love is also a theme in Speaking. At “The Festival,” a security guard at a wimmin’s camp can hardly find sometime alone with an exotic, dreadlocked beauty vying her a little of her attention. “The Honeymoon Cottage” is where it all goes down between Hillary and Sonia, two passionate wimmin with no time for each other between their busy schedules. Kimberly finally gets her fantasy with “Pongee,” a professor she’s lusted after for years and gets her chance with years later.

Other tales include a lover getting caught looking in her girl’s “Honey Eyes,” while there’s nowhere for desire to hide in “The Exit.” “The Gateway” leads Patrice to another dimension, one where an erotic alien is taught the real meaning of human sexuality.

Morris’ stories are titillating, but a few didn’t hit the spot. There were a couple of stories that left me hanging with how short they were, and there were a couple that just didn’t do it for me. And I’m not quite sure what the seasonal interludes were supposed to do. Morris also should focus more on making her stories more varied and wide-ranging, as sometimes I felt I was reading the same story twice.

But most of the tales I enjoyed, the ones that managed to do their job, leaving me craving for more.

Reviewed February 2006

Walk Like a Man by Laurinda D. Brown

Publisher/Date:  Q-Boro Books, Sept. 2006 (Reprint)
Genre(s):  Short Story, Erotica
Pages: 305

[xrr rating=5/5]

Mind-blowing is the best way to describe WALK LIKE A MAN, Laurinda D. Brown’s first foray into erotic fiction. Brown compiles 11 tempestuous tales featuring the whole gamut of Black lesbian lust. Her writing is sharp, and the message is clear: exploring sexuality uninhibited.

In the prologue, Brown explains the book’s title and sets the tone for what’s between its pages. It begins with an unnamed narrator describing what it’s like making love to another woman-feeling like a man underneath the exterior of a female.

After the prologue, Brown puts it down. In “An A For Ashley,” Dee falls hard a pretty girl with a playa mentality, and goes so far as to tattoo an “A” on her arm. Once Dee finds out she’s been used, she seeks her revenge and shows Ashley who wears-or owns-the panties.

Next, Monique becomes “Mo,” in this tale of a girl abandoning her prissy ways and adopting a stud persona after to deal with being assaulted by a neighborhood store owner. Then in “Natasha,” an employee mixes business with pleasure when she embarks on a trip with her sexy boss.

Brown tackles sexual roles in “Dom and Dommer,” which humorously describes the relationship between two dominant women. Who wears the pants? Who pumps the gas? They can’t decide, but know that their love encompasses more than their sexual personas. Even including a little politics, Brown writes with heart in “Dress Right Dress,” about an older lesbian falling in love with an army lieutenant who abides by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality.

Humor is also interspersed in these sexy stories, as evidenced by the next two tales. “Tastes Like Chicken” amusingly captures Iris as she finally savors the flavor of woman’s nectar. In “Pimp,” a womanizing stud gets beat at her own game by a sneaky one-night stand; she forgot to abide by Pimp Rule 1: Never leave your cell phone lying around.

Brown revisits Mo years later in the story “Strapped,” while in “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” Frankie doesn’t get to share her feelings with the woman who stole her heart-her wife makes sure of that.

Finally, the bonus tale, “Caught Up,” ironically features four sides of a love triangle. Everyone has her own version of how things went down, including the wife, the cheater, the mistress, and her girlfriend.

Every story in Walk Like a Man is enjoyable. Brown has done an outstanding job creating these stories of passion and pain. It goes a lot deeper than simply getting you off, but touches on every aspect of sexuality. It also features an assortment of lesbian characters from the roughneck stud to the professional femme.

Definitely read at your own risk, as these tales will leave you craving more.

Reviewed November 2005

For Nights Like This One: Stories of Loving Women by Becky Birtha

Publisher/Date:  Frog in the Well, June 1983
Genre:  Short Story
Pages:  107

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

If you’re not one for short story collections, FOR NIGHTS LIKE THIS ONE: STORIES OF LOVING WOMEN will change your mind. Becky Birtha’s affectionate stories featuring lesbians from all walks of life were touching, intelligent and insightful. Birtha knows how to keep the cohesiveness of the tales, while making each one fresh and distinctive.

The book is composed of 13 novellas all about lesbian love. Although the work was published in 1983, its simple themes still transcend to contemporary times. Sexual identity, same-sex parenting, race and and monogamy were issues Birtha addressed with candor and could be heard today in any lesbian relationship. Nothing she wrote seems outdated.

In the first story, two tripped out women get a rude awakening by a dude who detests their love in “It Was Over Then.” Lurie and Sabra discuss raising children in “Babies,” while Edna is intrigued by “Marissa,” the new radical black teacher at her workplace. “Next Saturday” finds a Julliard teacher pining away for her student, Kacey, who reminds her of her own coming out experience.

“A Sense of Loss” could be the most relatable story to black lesbians because its theme of hidden identity. The narrator, Liz, returns home to attend her grandmother’s funeral, where she feels out of place. No one knows she’s a lesbian (except her sister), and she feels like a hypocrite for not being herself around her own family. Liz has a lover back home, a woman she could never bring home to mama. But there was one person who always knew her heart: Grandma. It’s not until Liz is back home with her true family, her lover Mandy, that she can truly grieve her loss–her grandmother and her own isolation from her real family.

Julia and Gina think clothes make the lesbian in “Leftovers,” and Emily realizes nothing compares to being with the one you love in “A Monogamy Story.” Brownwyn holds onto a loved one’s ring for “Safekeeping.” Ellen doesn’t like her lover’s ex-girlfriend and her obtrusive presence in “A Four-Sided Figure,” while in the title story, a woman daydreams about a perfect lover–until she finds the real thing.

The last three tales deal with acceptance. Jessica let her pride keep her from loving “The Woman Who Loved Dancing”; black woman Francie has to accept whom she really is and the love of her white best friend; and Sojourner realizes no one knows her better than lover Sierra, not even herself.

Birtha’s connection with all these tales is one of true love and all the forms it takes between women. We have the capacity to love freely and compassionately and that resonates with these stories.

Birtha’s writing in For Nights Like This One was poetic yet simplistic in its traditional themes-every woman, black or white, could relate.

Reviewed October 2005